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Thursday through Saturday the Denver Pepsi Center will host the best wrestlers in Colorado for the 2A-5A state tournaments. The preliminaries start at 2 p.m. Thursday. The state finals are Saturday after the Parade of Champions, which starts at 6:30.

Two area athletes enter the tournaments as defending champions.

Senior Nathan Johns of The Classical Academy is On the Mat Wrestling’s top-ranked athlete at his 182-pound class in 3A. He earned a first-place finish at regionals and went 31-3 this season. Johns placed second in the 2017 state championship before winning it all last year.

Discovery Canyon senior Patrick Allis has qualified for state for four years and he has never failed to place below fifth. As a junior he won the state title at 120, and this year he’s moved to 126 and is 35-1. He is the second wrestler in history to capture four titles at the Colorado Springs Metro Wrestling Championships. He placed first at regionals for Class 4A Region 2.

Air Academy senior Brady Badwound is about to enter his final state tournament with his final chance at winning a state title. Badwound enters with a 29-5 record at 182 in Class 4A. He finished in first place for his weight class at the CSM Championships earlier this year. Badwound has qualified for the state tournament each of his four years as a Kadet. He’s steadily improved in each appearance. He suffered a defeat to Mesa Ridge’s Elijah Valdez in the opening round his freshman year, he fell one round later as a sophomore and placed fifth last year. Badwound placed second at regionals this season, losing to Pueblo County’s Jayson Davis via fall.

Coronado sophomore Ben Nagel, 138, is one of eight Cougars headed to state and he may have just sparked a rivalry with Air Academy's Bailey Badwound. Nagel took first at regionals, beating Badwound via an 8-4 decision. That’s after Badwound beat Nagel at the CSM Championships. Nagel is 28-8 this season.

Cheyenne Mountain freshman Nico Gagliardi is 34-6 and heading to state after winning the 4A Region 3 195 class outright.

Mesa Ridge junior Jared Volcic came up on the short end of his match with Gagliardi at regionals, but Volcic is still one of the Grizzlies’ and the area’s best, with a 38-4 record. He placed third at state last season.

Falcon freshman James Brown is off to a fast start in his high school career. He won the 120 class at the CSM Championships this year. Brown also beat Pueblo West junior Kobi Montano at regionals to secure a spot at state. Brown is 29-8 this season.

Doherty junior Tyson Beauperthuy (35-2) won first place at regionals in the Class 5A Region 2 152 class. Beauperthuy, like Badwound and Allis, took the top spot for his weight class at the CSM Championships earlier in the season. This will be Beauperthuy’s first state appearance.

Harrison senior Kyon McDonald lost in the first round of the tournament last year but he’s earned another shot this year. McDonald, who is 27-15, took third in the 4A Region 2 220 class.

Taylor Vasquez, a senior at Fountain-Fort Carson, won the 5A Region 4 126 class and is headed back to state after he was eliminated in the second round a year ago. Vasquez is 39-7.

Pine Creek claimed a team title at the 5A Region 3 tournament thanks in part to seniors Zachery Vannaman and Jared Field, who took first in their respective classes. Vannaman is 20-9, while Field is 29-12.

Another Eagle to look out of for is sophomore Draygan Colonese, who took third in the 5A Region 3 tournament at 170. Colonese also won the 170 title at the CSM Championship. He has a 38-7 record.

Coronado junior Angel Flores was one match shy of wrestling in the state final last year and ended up taking third at 5A 126. This year, the Cougars are wrestling in 4A and Flores has moved up to 132, where he is 27-2 and has some unfinished business.

Rampart junior Ben Bancroft got bounced of the state tournament in the first round last year. This year, he’s ridden a 37-7 record to a first-place finish in the 5A Region 1 138 class at regionals.

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